Saturday, December 24, 2011

Four Years of Focusing on Christ. So Much to Reflect and Rejoice About.

Each of our lives is a journey. In the end, we hope to hear the words: "Well done, good and faithful servant".

My personal journey has continued each day with a deepening of my faith. Some days are difficult, others are relatively smooth. I often wonder where God is in my life, other times I knowingly stare him in the face. The past few months have been devoid of any posts from me, as I have felt God calling me to a deeper reflection with him, while balancing work, teaching Catechism and other commitments. I've witnessed tragedy on an immense scale and seen God provide consolation and reassurance that he is there with me through extraordinary ways. Thus, he has allowed me to again take a revealing journey with him and find focus in my life.

When I actually take the time to stop and reflect, I am continually amazed at the blessings in my life. We are often too wound up in the world to actually stop and relax. Sitting down this Advent season, I have reflected on the fact that it is a year ago that I started this blog and four years since I returned to the church. This blog began with the intent of sharing my story. Since sharing it, I have heard from those who have fallen away from the sacraments and since returned, shared many of my encounters with Christ, and had my story featured on Why I'm Catholic. I have been asked again this year to do some of the readings and scripture reflections at Midnight Mass, to which I am humbled and grateful for. It is an honor to serve Christ's church in any manner, no matter how big or small. We are all called to serve the church with our actions, words, time, and talent. I am also reminded that it is difficult to keep our eyes continually focused on Christ.

This Christmas, we must remember that God came to us in a small, humble manner, in the form of a child. It also requires us to humble ourselves. Our pride often trumps God's messages while we blaze our own paths through this life. This past week, I was able to connect things in my life to the messages that God wanted me to hear.

The words I distinctively recall from a priest at a recent talk were "We see God the way we see our father". "Sure. I see that. Doesn't really apply to me", I thought. I know that we are formed by our earthly father, or some father figure in our lives. It could be in a positive manner, or a negative manner of various sorts. I've seen others affected by it. That's what I seemingly told myself...

It wasn't until the next day that it connected to me in a powerful way while I was driving to work. It was one of those 'epiphany' moments where it all became so clear and time stood still. I realized that I was approaching our heavenly father feeling unworthy, not good enough. I saw an image of myself in the confessional beating myself up and saying I was not worthy of God's love. I hadn't reached perfection. This was a revelation that I needed. I didn't see how I was treating myself and approaching God. It is true that the Catholic faith can come across as overly harsh and difficult. We may not hear "God Loves Us" directly. However, the fact is that God Loves Us. He created a church with the sacraments and it will set us free over time. It takes a peeling away of areas of our lives to reveal the true self and the treasure that lies within. The same wise priest that reminded me how to look at God also reminded me that we must carry the Cross with Christ. Christ did come as a cute infant we may all want to pick up and hold. He did die for us on the Cross, yet we still have to do our part, saying 'Yes' to him.

May we all seek to see the face of Christ in our lives, no matter how difficult it is.

I will end this post with a thanksgiving to God for the continuing work in my life and a video from one of my favorite Lay Apostolates, Catholics Come Home.

Deo Gratias.